Front page: Left half (from under headlines to bottom of page) is full of an add from an jewellers advertising gold. Pages 2 and 3 are all gold ads too, as is half of page 4, as tomorrow is Akshaya Tritiya, when it is an auspicious day here in Karataka to buy and wear gold jewelry to help you bring more wealth to you and your family. I look at all the heavy gold and think about how that money could be used on productive investment, but then I'm a geeky economist, and I do appreciate how for many folks here, especially those outside the formal financial system, gold serves as a great store of wealth than can be controlled by women. But still, most of the folks buying the huge amounts are not those outside the formal financial system.
The other half of the front page is pretty depressing too: a picture with the title "Thailand on the boil" highlighting the unrest in Thailand, followed by "Constable killed as terrorists strike in Hyderabad Old City" and then "Mayapuri scrap market still in danger, says Greenpeace". The Hyderabad article points at simmering problems, where the concerns about the Pakistani state should be secondary compared to concern about less official types. The scrap market article is about radioactive waste, following contamination material having killed one and injured others at Delhi University after having dismantled radioactive equipment.
The small photos as teasers for other articles (immediately below the name of the newspaper) are "Government Taken to Task", "28 Persons Electrocuted", "Ruben Wants to Go Home", and "Hussey Stars for Australia." The "Government" article is about a central government official publicly admonishing the state government for not nominating new heads of agricultural universities; "Ruben" covers the human interest story of the sole survivor of a plane crash in Libya; and "Hussey" is about cricket, the obsession here. The "28 Persons Electrocuted" is the one that drew my attention. On page 19 there was a photo and a short article explaining that they were returning from a marriage when their bus hit a high-voltage wire -- their bus had an iron box and other luggage on top, and it came in contact with the wire near Madla in Madhya Pradesh. 23 women, 3 boys, and 2 men. Very sad, but surprising that more incidents don't occur given the overloaded buses and trucks on the one hand, and dangling and low hanging wires on the other.
Page 9 has another sad story: "Two killed as lorry ploughs through several vehicles: Motorists have little elbow room thank to bus stops on either side of road" where the driver of an overloaded truck (some might argue persuasively that there are no other types here) with timber lost control and "rammed into a goods autorickshaw ferrying empty domestic gas cylinders. It then ploughed through two scooters before hitting the bus." A few things here: the two who died were on a scooter. If the cylinders had been full, the possibility for more damage might exist (although I'm sure my energy friends would say that it is safe). If the bus hadn't been there and the bus had moved into the bus stand, more would have been injured certainly. Here's more from the article: "The presence of bus stops on either side of the 80-foot Hennur Road has been causing problems for motorists. "If two buses stop on both the sides, there is hardly any space for other motorists," said S. Ekambaram, a resident of the area. Local people complained of difficulty in crossing the busy road. "We use the raised pedestrian crossing just at the slope of the flyover. But it hardly helps us as the height of crossing has reduced because of the layers of asphalt," Mr. Ekambaram said. The Banaswadi Traffic Police, how arrested driver Saleem, said his driving license had expired." So here we see issues of: placement of bus stops, lack of pedestrian crossing, and an expired driver's license, all issues that are relevant all over Bangalore.
While there are days when one is hopeful about the future here, there are times when hope is tough to find.